[22] Lit. 'to get from the tyrant all in a moment many times more than he will earn from all the rest of mankind in a whole lifetime, and depart.'

To which Simonides: Well, granted you have the worst of it in sights and sightseeing; yet, you must admit you are large gainers through the sense of hearing; you who are never stinted of that sweetest of all sounds,[23] the voice of praise, since all around you are for ever praising everything you do and everything you say. Whilst, conversely, to that most harsh and grating of all sounds, the language of abuse, your ears are sealed, since no one cares to speak evil against a monarch to his face.

[23] Cf. Cic. 'pro Arch.' 20, 'Themistoclem illum dixisse aiunt cum ex eo quaereretur, 'quod acroama aut cujus vocem libentissime audiret': 'ejus, a quo sua virtus optime praedicaretur.''

Then Hiero: And what pleasure do you suppose mere abstinence from evil words implies, when it is an open secret that those silent persons are cherishing all evil thoughts against the tyrant?[24] What mirth, do you imagine, is to be extracted from their panegyrics who are suspected of bestowing praise out of mere flattery?

[24] 'One knows plainly that these dumb attendants stand there like mutes, but harbour every evil thought against their autocratic lord.'

Simonides made answer: Yes, I must indeed admit, I do concede to you, that praise alone is sweetest which is breathed from lips of free men absolutely free. But, look you, here is a point: you will find it hard to persuade another, that you despots, within the limits of those things whereby we one and all sustain our bodies, in respect, that is, of meats and drinks, have not a far wider range of pleasures.

Yes, Simonides (he answered), and what is more, I know the explanation of the common verdict. The majority have come to the conclusion that we monarchs eat and drink with greater pleasure than do ordinary people, because they have got the notion, they themselves would make a better dinner off the viands served at our tables than their own. And doubtless some break in the monotony gives a fillip of pleasure. And that explains why folk in general look forward with pleasure to high days and holy days--mankind at large, but not the despot; his well- stocked table groaning from day to day under its weight of viands admits of no state occasions. So that, as far as this particular pleasure, to begin with, goes, the pleasure of anticipation, the monarch is at disadvantage compared with private people.

And in the next place (he continued), I am sure your own experience will bear me out so far: the more viands set before a man at table (beyond what are sufficient),[25] the more quickly will satiety of eating overtake him. So that in actual duration of the pleasure, he with his many dishes has less to boast of than the moderate liver.

[25] {ta peritta ton ikanon}. These words Hartm. op. cit. p. 254, regards as an excrescence.

Yes, but good gracious! surely (broke in Simonides), during the actual time,[26] before the appetite is cloyed, the gastronomic pleasure derived from the costlier bill of fare far exceeds that of the cheaper dinner-table.

[26] Lit. 'so long as the soul (i.e. the appetite) accepts with pleasure the viands'; i.e. there's an interval, at any rate, during which 'such as my soul delights in' can still apply and for so long.

But, as a matter of plain logic (Hiero retorted), should you not say, the greater the pleasure a man feels in any business, the more enthusiastic his devotion to it?

That is quite true (he answered).

Hiero. Then have you ever noticed that crowned heads display more pleasure in attacking the bill of fare provided them, than private persons theirs?

No, rather the reverse (the poet answered); if anything, they show a less degree of gusto,[27] unless they are vastly libelled.

[27] 'No, not more pleasure, but exceptional fastidiousness, if what people say is true.' {agleukesteron}, said ap. Suid. to be a Sicilian word = 'more sourly.'

Well (Hiero continued), and all these wonderfully-made dishes which are set before the tyrant, or nine-tenths of them, perhaps you have observed, are combinations of things acid to the taste, or pungent, or astringent, or akin to these?[28]

[28] Lit. 'and their congeners,' 'their analogues,' e.g. 'curries, pickles, bitters, peppery condiments.'

To be sure they are (he answered), unnatural viands, one and all, in my opinion, most alien to ordinary palates.[29]

[29] Or, 'unsuited to man's taste,' ''caviare to the general' I name them.'

Hiero. In fact, these condiments can only be regarded as the cravings[30] of a stomach weakened by luxurious living; since I am quite sure that keen appetites (and you, I fancy, know it well too) have not the slightest need for all these delicate made things.

[30] Cf. Plat. 'Laws,' 687 C; 'Hipp.' ii. 44. Lit. 'can you in fact regard these condiments as other than . . .' See Holden ad loc. (ed. 1888); Hartm. op. cit. p. 259, suggests {enthumemata}, 'inventions.'

It is true, at any rate (observed Simonides), about those costly perfumes, with which your persons are anointed, that your neighbours rather than yourselves extract enjoyment from them; just as the unpleasant odour of some meats is not so obvious to the eater as to those who come in contact with him.

Hiero. Good, and on this principle we say of meats, that he who is provided with all sorts on all occasions brings no appetite to any of them. He rather to whom these things are rarities, that is the man who, when some unfamiliar thing is put before him, will take his fill of it with pleasure.[31]

[31] {meta kharas}. Cf. Aesch. Fr. 237, {stomatos en prote khara}, of a hungry man; 'Od.' xvii. 603.

It looks very much (interposed Simonides) as if the sole pleasure left you to explain the vulgar ambition to wear a crown, must be that named after Aphrodite. For in this field it is your privilege to consort with whatever fairest fair your eyes may light on.

Hiero. Nay, now you have named that one thing of all others, take my word for it, in which we princes are worse off than lesser people.[32]

[32] Reading {saph' isthi}, or if as Cobet conj. {saphestata}, transl. 'are at a disadvantage most clearly by comparison with ordinary folk.'

To name marriage first. I presume a marriage[33] which is contracted with some great family, superior in wealth and influence, bears away the palm, since it confers upon the bridegroom not pleasure only but distinction. [34] Next comes the marriage made with equals; and last, wedlock with inferiors, which is apt to be regarded as degrading and disserviceable.

[33] Cf. 'Hunting,' i. 9. Holden cf. Eur. 'Rhes.' 168; 'Androm.' 1255.

[34] Cf. Dem. 'in Lept.' S. 69, p. 499. See Plat. 'Rep.' 553 C.

Now for the application: a despotic monarch, unless he weds some foreign bride, is forced to choose a wife from those beneath him, so that the height of satisfaction is denied him.[35]

[35] Al. 'supreme content, the quintessential bliss, is quite unknown to him.'

The tender service of the proudest-souled of women, wifely rendered, how superlatively charming![36] and by contrast, how little welcome is such ministration where the wife is but a slave--when present, barely noticed; or if lacking, what fell pains and passions will it not engender!

[36] Or, 'the gentle ministrations of loftiest-thoughted women and fair wives possess a charm past telling, but from slaves, if tendered, the reverse of welcome, or if not forthcoming . . .'

And if we come to masculine attachments, still more than in those whose end is procreation, the tyrant finds himself defrauded of such mirthfulness,[37] poor monarch! Since all of us are well aware, I fancy, that for highest satisfaction,[38] amorous deeds need love's strong passion.[39]

[37] 'Joys sacred to that goddess fair and free in Heaven yclept Euphrosyne.'

[38] For {polu diapherontos} cf. Browning ('Abt Vogler'), not indeed of Aphrodisia conjoined with Eros, but of the musician's gift:

That out of three sounds he frame not a fourth sound, but a star.

[39] i.e. 'Eros, the Lord of Passion, must lend his hand.' 'But,' he proceeds, 'the god is coy; he has little liking for the breasts of kings. He is more likely to be found in the cottage of the peasant than the king's palace.'

But least of all is true love's passion wont to lodge in the hearts of monarchs, for love delights not to swoop on ready prey; he needs the lure of expectation.[40]

[40] Or, 'even on the heels of hoped-for bliss he follows.'

Well then, just as a man who has never tasted thirst can hardly be said to know the joy of drinking,[41] so he who has never tasted Passion is ignorant of Aphrodite's sweetest sweets.

[41] Reading with Holden (after H. Steph.) {osper oun an tis . . .} or with Hartm. (op. cit. p. 259) {osper ouk an tis . . .}

Вы читаете Hiero
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату